Creating an Ergonomically Workspace

office chairSitting in front of your computer terminal for several hours a day can cause many a back ache and injury. To prevent this you need an ergonomically correct office. Ergonomics is a relatively new field in design. It attempts to put human needs and capabilities at the forefront of designing technological systems. An ergonomically designed office space reduces the risk of Repetitive Strain Injury and Work Related Upper Limb Disorder.

Now having an ergonomically designed workspace usually costs up to thousands of dollars. If you are employed it’s unlikely that your superiors would give you the budget to have an ergonomically designed office space. So for those looking for an inexpensive way to avoid back ache and sprained wrists here are a few tips.

Customizing your Chair.

Your chair is one of the most important pieces in your workspace. A good chair will give your spine excellent support and give your butt a relaxing stay. Buying the right kind for your size is important. A few key features of the chair that you have to keep in mind when buying are the back support, armrests, cushioning, height adjustments and roll ability.

The back support of your chair should be tall enough to support your upper and lower back. The angle between your legs and trunk should be a bit more than 90 degrees. See that your chair tilts upwards and backwards.

For the armrests you should be able to rest your arms without having to extend them from your body. If your shoulders stoop then remove the armrest from your chair. The cushion on your chair should be thick enough to support your buttocks and thighs without touching the back of your knees. Look for a chair with five legs that rolls smoothly.

Trays and Wrist Rests.

Adjustable keyboards trays keep your keyboard flat or on slightly tilted backward position. They also help you adjust the keyboard so you don’t have to reach for them.

Try to avoid propping your keyboard on its feet as your will bend your wrists doing so. Wrist rest may keep your wrists straight but it puts pressure on your nerves and tendons at the back of the wrist. Use the rests only when you are actually resting and not when you are typing.

Typing Technique.

Avoid pounding on the keys. This adds more pressure on your fingers. Keep your fingers relaxed and floating over the keys. Change your keyboard if some of the keys make stick and you have to hit it to make it work.

Positioning your Monitor.

Your monitor’s position is critical for a stress free time at your workstation. Try to place your monitor 18 to 24 inches away. The top of your monitor should be level with your eyes. Your body, monitor and keyboard should form a straight line. If you have the money invest in a flat screen monitor. The clarity and brightness is a great improvement over your old CRT monitor.

Steps for Adjusting your Chair and Desk for Comfort:

  • Stand up and relax your shoulders, arms and wrists. Notice how your neck is relatively straight, your shoulders are not tense and your wrists are not bent or twisted. When you sit down try to adjust your chair and desk that this relaxed position is maintained.
  • You should make sure that your feet rest flat on the flat, your knees are at right angles and your thighs are resting on the front of the seat pan.
  • Adjust the back rest so that your back is as close to vertical as possible
  • Make sure your monitor is at eye level
  • Adjust your chair so that your lower back or where your spine curves is well supported
  • Your keyboard should be adjusted so your arms are parallel to the floor when typing.
  • Your wrists should be as straight as possible when you are typing
  • Position your mouse so that it is near your keyboard
  • Your chairs armrests should comfortably support your arms

Of course no matter how ergonomically perfect your workstation is take the time to stretch out those tired muscles. Every three hours stand up and walk around. Shift around on your seat. Make sure your back and posture are straight. Follow these tips and you’ll be more productive at work.